Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, FinTech Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Hewlett Packard: A Tale of Many Clouds

HP has the technical pieces. It has the people pieces, some of the business model pieces. It has parts of the compelling story.

Hewlett Packard used its Discover event in Frankfurt last week to reassert the company’s cloud credentials. Public, private, hybrid; HP is painting pictures that encompass them all, whilst seeking to protect hardware revenues and reassure conservative executives at some of its largest and most profitable customers. But HP has been here before, making bold claims and telling people what they wanted to hear about an HP cloud upon which enterprises could depend. This time, will the company deliver?

Earlier this year, satirical news site The Onion took a cruel but funny swipe at HP’s cloud pretensions. HP, the sketch suggested, had the answers, the technology, and a lot of cloud. The company has done — and continues to do — a lot right in this space, but it really did bring this derision upon itself. Mixed messaging, repeated announcements of amazing new cloud services that never quite saw the light of day, an endless stream of apparent strategy U-turns that must surely have left long-time HP executives as dizzy as those trying to understand their intentions? None of this helped HP. But now, Windows Azure is apparently behind us. PalmOS (or whatever it’s called these days) is no longer a glue to bind hardware, peripherals, software and data together. Amazon is an inevitable piece of the whole. And at HP, the new story is one (more or less) of an OpenStack public cloud called HP Cloud (or HP Public Cloud), a VMware private cloud called Cloud System, and a professional services sell called Managed Cloud for Enterprise (which is messily spread across large swathes of HP’s dreadful website, with no obvious landing page to link here).

A public cloud

The biggest cloud news out of Discover was probably the General Availability (at last) of HP’s OpenStack-powered public cloud offering. In keynotes and workshops, it was somewhat surprising to see the extent to which OpenStack and other enabling technologies were not mentioned. This was HP’s cloud, and the implication was clearly that HP know-how was what made it tick. HP hardware, HP software, HP cleverness. None of the ‘Intel Inside’ co-branding, Microsoft Diamond Sponsor loviness or VMware strategic partner rhetoric for this open source project, it seems. But, more relevantly, also none of the recognition that other named open source projects like the various Linux distributions do receive from HP.

Given the rather raw state of some OpenStack components, HP engineers have been busy stitching pieces together, but I would have expected HP to be telling more of a story about portability, about interoperability, and about the breadth and depth of the OpenStack community that customers would be joining. That story wasn’t told, and you had to know where to look to find much mention of the elusive OpenStack at all.

One place, it must be said, where the company was far more forthcoming was in the private Coffee Talks arranged for us by the team at Ivy. In frank cloud discussions such as those with Christian Verstraete, Chris Purcell, Florian Otel and others, far more of the detail — and rationale — was laid on the table.

Pricing is competitive, and it will be interesting to see how HP moves forward here. HP’s public cloud makes plenty of sense for enterprise customers already using HP kit and services elsewhere. But will a startup or a non-customer choose the HP Cloud in preference to Amazon or Google or Rackspace?

They might, if the messaging is right. German cloud analyst René Büst asserted in Frankfurt that “the next Instagram would never choose to start and grow on the HP Cloud”, as Amazon has all the mind-share in the startup community. Does HP care enough about the world beyond existing enterprise accounts to accept René’s challenge and entice that next cool startup? Is it, frankly, worth their while when their entire selling and support machine is geared toward people in suits who value fancy lunches and a Christmas card far more than credit card sign-up and cost competitiveness?

A private cloud

HP’s private cloud offering has been around a little longer, but the company reiterated — and reinforced — messages originally delivered at the Las Vegas Discover a few months back; Cloud System supports ‘bursting’ of compute jobs from an enterprise’s own private cloud to external providers such as HP’s public cloud and Amazon. This is a capability that will become increasingly important as even the most conservative enterprise customers begin their gradual transition out of the data centre and into the cloud.

Whatever Amazon and Salesforce executives might say in public about “the false cloud” or the number of Fortune 100 companies happily doing something on their public cloud infrastructure, they and we know that this is going to be a long game. HP’s flagship customers will move. Eventually, they’ll move almost everything. But it will take a decade or more, and there’s plenty of time to sell a few more private clouds and an awful lot of servers and storage arrays before that day comes.

A recognition of Amazon

HP’s messaging no longer tries to persuade customers that it will always meet every one of their cloud needs. HP has products and solutions to offer, but it is recognising that it needs to fit into a complex mixed environment. The company also recognises that Amazon is an inevitable part of that environment, and that HP solutions need to augment and add value with respect to Amazon. Helping customers to use Amazon when it’s appropriate is a far more effective strategy, long term, than either denying Amazon’s existence or insisting that its solutions are not fit for enterprise consumption. Neither are true, and HP’s customers are smart enough to realise that.

The SLA is king, maybe

One area in which HP is trying to differentiate itself from Amazon is in terms of Service Level Agreements, and this should play well with an enterprise audience. Rather than necessarily worrying about what hardware cloud infrastructure runs on, or whether it’s located on-premise, in a known and audited off-premise location, or out there in the fuzziness of the unbounded public cloud, HP is telling a story that focuses far more upon level of service, level of resilience, etc. This makes a lot of sense. I often don’t actually care whether data runs on my own machines or not. What I care about is whether or not my compliance and business requirements are being met. So instead of choosing public or private, off-premise or on, it makes a lot more sense to think about the business and compliance requirements that a particular solution helps me meet. One solution (on or off-premise) may be more secure, more robust, more disaster resilient, and it will come with an SLA (and a price tag) to reflect that. Another (again, on or off-premise) may be more suited to general crunching of less sensitive data. It’ll be more prone to failure, and cheaper. We tend to assume that our own data centre is the logical home of the former, and that the public cloud is a pretty cost-effective way to handle the latter. That’s not necessarily true, and that’s why it’s refreshing to at least begin to think in more nuanced terms. Unfortunately, although HP execs planted these ideas during their keynotes, the follow-up material quickly fell back into public v private, dodgy commodity kit v HP ‘enterprise grade’ hardware, etc. And that’s a shame.

Gartner’s Lydia Leong takes a deeper look at HP’s latest SLAs, and suggests that they may not be living up to their own rhetoric either. There’s plenty of work still to do in this area, and an effective means of differentiating service and value propositions is long overdue.

Dell goes the other way

HP uses OpenStack for the company’s public cloud, and VMware sits beneath their private offerings. Speaking at Dell World this week, Michael Dell announced that his company is doing the exact opposite; Dell’s existing VMware-powered public cloud is to be joined by a private cloud offering powered by OpenStack.

The public and private offerings of HP and Dell certainly aren’t directly comparable, but it is interesting that the two companies have reached such superficially odd decisions. It even raises the prospect that a customer of HP’s private cloud may find it easier to move to Dell’s public cloud than to HP’s, and that a customer of Dell’s private cloud may find it easier to move workloads to HP’s public cloud than to stick with Dell. Odd at best, this should be raising eyebrows in both Round Rock and Palo Alto.

Will the Converged Cloud actually, you know, Converge?

HP has a lot to say about convergence, both in terms of their hardware business but also in the cloud. And yet, it can be surprisingly difficult to see how the public and private pieces of the HP cloud portfolio really fit together. More often than I’d have expected, HP staffers discussing either the public or private cloud offerings spoke as if theirs was the only cloud in HP-land. A slip of the tongue once, or perhaps twice, but this was repeated again and again and again in Frankfurt. The joined-up story, and the reality of customers starting in either HP Cloud or Cloud System before realising a need to embrace parts of the other doesn’t seem to be getting through on the ground.

HP is a big ship, with some smart people and some great technology. But if it doesn’t tell a single — compelling — story and back it up with an attractive business model, it’s toast.

I can’t remember who it was, but someone in Frankfurt remarked in passing that HP would come through its current troubles “because it had technical chops.” Sadly for HP, that is simply not true. You can have the best technology in the world. But without a defined (or creatable) market requirement, a viable business proposition, and some credible messaging, all of that amazing technology is just some very expensive scrap metal. And a fatal red stain, spreading across the balance sheet.

HP has the technical pieces. It has the people pieces. It has some of the business model pieces. It has parts of the compelling story. It’s time the company joined those together credibly, filled in the gaps, and stopped shooting itself in the foot.

At least starve The Onion of material, so its writers have to try a little harder next time.

Disclosure: acting on behalf of Hewlett Packard, Ivy Worldwide invited me to Discover and covered travel and expenses associated with the trip. There was no requirement that I write about HP, and no requirement that any coverage be favourable.

Image by Flickr user Jose Roberto V Moraes

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they bu...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, will discuss some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he’ll go over some of the best practices for structured team migrat...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera offers a radically new approach to data management, where innovative software makes data infrastructure invisible, elastic and able to perform at the highest level. It eliminates hardware lock-in and gives IT organizations the choice to source x86 server nodes, with business model option...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...